Remy Gardner says that fighting back from outside the top 10 to finish fifth in Round 1 of Moto2 in Qatar “feels like a podium”.
Gardner shook off a nasty highside to put the #87 SAG Team Kalex sixth on the starting grid for the 20-lapper around the Losail International Circuit, but slid to 10th inside the first five laps and found himself 11th at the end of Lap 12.
The Australian then reversed the trend and while eventual race winner Tetsuta Nagashima was gradually pulling away, Gardner had latched onto the battle for the minor placings inside another half-a-dozen laps.
He ultimately missed the podium by less than half a second and was only 0.554s behind race runner-up Lorenzo Baldassarri.
“(I) Nearly had fourth with Joe (Roberts), they had a little touch in the last corner, which was a nice little fight,” recounted Gardner to MotoGP.com.
“We’re not on the podium but honestly it’s a really good result and it feels like a podium for me at least, so it was a really, really good race.
“We’ve finished fifth, it’s a good first race, don’t know where the next one will be, but already looking forward to redemption.”
Gardner, who has one grand prix podium to his name with a second placing in last year’s Argentina Moto2 race, lamented his relatively large size as the reason for dropping so far away from the head of the field in the first half of the race.
“Unfortunately, my attack started a bit too late,” he explained.
“In the beginning, I was really getting caught up in a lot of fights with the guys, especially with the full fuel tank for me; I noticed it a lot in the first 10 laps.
“I’m a heavy guy and adding that extra fuel just makes it that much more difficult for me; they can come past me on the straight and it’s really hard for me to fight in those few laps, so I went back all the way to 11th position, I think, with about 10 laps to go.
“Then everyone started struggling with the front (tyre) and I still had a good feeling and I could really still push on the front so I just started attacking, pushing, and just riding my absolute hardest for 10 laps.
“(I) made some real good passes as well, some smart passes, and made it all the way to the front group. One more lap, we would have had the podium.
“It’s the first race, we’ve still got 19 to go, it’s not bad, it’s a good start.”
For now, the Circuit of the Americas hosts Round 2 for the junior classes, and the first race weekend for MotoGP, on April 3-5, although that is a moving target due to the threat of coronavirus.